Often I'm asked to make a prediction of what the coming season will bring. Someone will ask, "Are we gonna have a cold hard winter?" "Do you think there will be lots of snow?" Often I'm asked, "Will there be an early spring?" Or, "How much rain do I think we'll get this summer?"
I've never been one to make predictions about the weather. Oh, I guess I could but I've never learned much by guessing.
Although I'll probably never be able to say what the long-term weather will be, I have learned many things from the changes that come about from it. Like clock-work, Mother Nature responds to the weather and the temperature changes as the seasons turn.
I can't predict an early spring, but I know that the first sunny, 40° day in early March, the trees will respond and the sap will start flowing.
I can now predict when the horned owl chicks will fledge. I know this because I saw two of them standing in their stick nest, their age being about 3 weeks. I know they will fledge within another 2 weeks. That, if a prediction, is a safe one.
When the leaves on the oak trees are as big as a squirrel's ear is when the morel mushrooms will appear. I've found this to be true but it may not be as important as the change in the weather, or is it?
I have learned that one change in nature compliments another.
When the ground thaws and the ice on the ponds is gone, the frogs will start singing. When the nights get warm the flying insects will appear and soon there will be bats and swallows to eat them.
Because the warm weather has brought the insects and the bats and birds, I can predict when their young will come. Their time has come and life for them will fall in order.
The male red-winged blackbirds are all picking out their territories on the marsh. They have arrived well ahead of the females. To know when the females return, I watch the bird feeders. This morning there were no less than 12 bold males at the feeders, but still no sign of a female. When they do return, the courting will begin and I will be able to predict when the first young blackbirds will start showing up in the yard.
The male robins are also battling each other for the best places to nest and call their own spots in the yard. I haven't noticed any females yet but soon they will be here and the nest building will begin. Soon after, the first of 2 or 3 clutches of eggs will be laid. Once the nest is built, within a month there will be the first begging calls of the newly fledged young robins. This too, is a safe prediction.
The female Red-tailed hawk has been nestled down on her eggs for about a week now. Knowing how long it takes for the eggs to hatch and how long it takes before the young fledge, I can predict that by the second week of June, I will hear the begging youngsters in the trees. If a prediction is a guess, then I'm not one to predict, but to some degree, I'm able to foresee the future as nature unfolds around me.
The week really starts to bloom, as the pussy willows start to flower and the tops of the willow trees show a blush of yellow-green with leaf buds. The first little white flowers appear as the bloodroot blooms. Pale blue hepatica blankets the ground, coming up through the dry leaves on the floor of the woods. The tiny white flowers of the wood anemone show pretty faces among the pine needles under the white pines.
Last Friday, the temperature rose to over 80° and the warm winds brought the first tree swallows. Late in the afternoon, I watched six twittering swallows circle over the house in a tight pattern. They didn't seem to be searching for flying insects and disappeared up the valley. It's a sign that other "insect-eating birds" may return this week. Each day has new surprises. Every day has another beautiful song and another lovely flower.
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